Less about the transfusion or interaction of the players than the impersonal determination and harmonization of a few basic ideas and relations of force, and a perpetual concentration on them so as to lay bare some suggestive passages, this collaborative work between eleven man orchestra Zeitkratzer and sound artist Carsten Nicolai expounds upon romanticist mores in a respectful yet radical manner. Respectful in its agreement with the sublimity of nature and its emphasis on noise over musical tone, radical in its point of access, namely atomized (artificial) sounds and their repetition.
The work wasn't balanced on the wing of some whim but came together slowly over the course of nearly a decade, the first developments of which were revealed in 2000 at Podewil Berlin. "c1" was that work, a sort of trans-musical piece of amplified instrumental sounds that results in a barren and vaguely hostile environment. A subtle disquiet of a markedly different sort, "5 min" is largely sown from electronically produced sounds. Its mulch of dot matrix computer printers, pure sinus tones, and white noise, conjoined with a low bass clarinet and the sound of an e-bow coaxing sustained tones from a piano, shows the vitality of synthesis and ultimately gives a fine sense of sound and space, empty yet full.
Though each piece pursues a different course, both are nonetheless works of development. The two closing compositions, however, are more concerned with an unflagging repetitiveness that maintains the flesh of the pieces while simultaneously bringing them under a dark hypnosis that is impervious to time. Nicolai's surgical and sculpted electronics show only slight timbral changes over an incessantly repeated piano tone as they settle deeper and deeper into the shimmering resonances of the strings. Under this lean monotony, the slightest of changes in pressure, angle, and bow yield new inflections of sound with authority and troubled calm.
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